Spiedo is a traditional Lake Garda dish that the Bresciani have been eating for centuries. Different meats, including various cuts of rabbit, pork, chicken, are skewered with slices of potato and sage leaves in between the meats, salted and drizzled with butter, as they cook slowly on the revolving spit. The spiedo you eat now is much different to the peasant food it once was, a celebration dish for hunters which mostly consisted of uccellini- small birds such as thrushes, meadow larks and finches. Nowadays the dish is far more appetizing, the meats mentioned above are carefully positioned on the skewer to ensure that fat from the fattier cuts, keeps the other meat, the potatoes and the sage moist during the 4 to 5 hour cooking process. There are still some places that cook with imported uccellini, which the Bresciani say is required to get the true flavour of the dish. Personally I think it is amazing with or without, served with polenta and a jug of the juices, from the meats, butter and sage……it is ‘squisito’.
It’s perfect for Sunday lunch and the Hotel Colomber is my favourite place to eat it. It’s position in the village of St Michele, which is located on a plateau in the mountains above Gardone, it is extremely tranquil and very beautiful. There is a hang-gliding/parascending school next door, so you can let your lunch go down, relaxing in the grass and watching the brightly coloured shutes and wings, glide gently down from the top of the mountain and land in the field next door. There are numerous other places on Lake Garda to eat it, restaurants that serve it will usually have a sign outside saying ‘Domenica Spiedo’, which means- Sunday Spiedo. I recommend you go in and book a table, if you do you will almost certainly be eating your Sunday lunch with the ‘locals’
It is possible to make Spiedo at home, if you have the correct machine. Recently my family came over for a family wedding and most of them stayed in a campsite, Weekend Camping between Salo and Portese. On the Sunday of the Euro Cup Final between Italy and Spain my friend Livio bought his machine to the campsite and cooked for 24 of us. He is becoming a master of Spiedo and knows exactly how to position the meat and has mastered the technique of basting. He purchased the meat from my favourite butchers Podavini who have a shop in Raffa, a couple of miles from Salo. Podavini also specialise in spit roasting chicken and rolled joints of pork and turkey. They have a stall in the market on a Saturday, which is right next door to Livios cheese stall, ‘Ghisolfi Burro e Formaggio’. Both Livio and Allessandro of Podavini speak English, so if you want to sample some fantastic meat and cheese find them in Salo market on a Saturday morning.
The only danger of cooking the Spiedo yourself is the cooking time, it’s easy to consume far too many beers, which we did, but it didn’t prevent Livio from serving up the best meal that my family had eaten all holiday. Washed down with a few more beers we finished the meal just in time to go to the campsite bar to watch the match, which unfortunately was a bit of an anti climax to the fantastic meal we had eaten.